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In-house: 4 times more desirable than agency - 7 reasons to think again

Posted: Oct 2023
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When comms professionals consider their career paths, the lure of in-house can often distract from the benefits of an agency. Indeed, in our latest Salary Guide, when asked where they would ideally like to work, more than half (57%) of corporate comms professionals expressed a preference for in-house roles. This makes in-house 4 times more attractive than agency. In the previous year we reported that the desire for in-house was 6 times more desirable than agency life which indicates that agencies are making a bit of a comeback.

It’s often thought that agency life is tough as you are advising companies, often quite a few of them, and their demands can come at any time. While working hours can be longer in agencies, post-pandemic working practices have evolved and we have seen how most agencies have settled into hybrid working patterns. This means agency professionals have more balance in their lives, less commuting, and more flexibility in their roles. Clearly this has made them happier.

A recent survey of Gen Z comms and public affairs professionals by PR Week revealed that this cohort rates training and development, flexibility around office attendance, and financial bonus options, their top workplace benefits; something that agencies are perfectly positioned to offer… and more.

Here are 7 reasons why working in an agency is a great place to work and brilliant for propelling your comms career forward.

1. Variety is the spice of life

Working in an agency provides a treasure trove of opportunities for exposure and variety. PR professionals get to engage with a wide range of clients, spanning diverse industry sectors. This breadth translates into a significant impact on the campaigns you handle. In today's agency landscape, versatility is key, as you'll find yourself working across different industries and with various clients, gaining exposure to a multitude of communication disciplines and creative campaigns. Furthermore, agency structures often employ matrix setups, allowing PR professionals to interact with multiple managers which is great for learning.

2. Expertise at your fingertips

Joining an agency means becoming a part of specialised teams of experts and a wealth of knowledge. When working on campaigns, you'll have the invaluable opportunity to build up niche knowledge and immerse yourself in dedicated disciplines. From digital marketing and public affairs to employee engagement and branding, agency life in 2023 is a fertile ground for professional growth. You can sometime be on your own in-house, literally the only comms person which is a widely different experience.

3. Exploration, inspiration and promotion

By working across different industry sectors, agency professionals have ample opportunities to discover their passions and plan their career trajectories. The broad experience gained in this environment allows PR experts to pursue a professional life in the area they enjoy the most. Plus, in an agency environment with many people at working at many levels, it means you don’t have to wait for someone senior to leave to be promoted. In the first five years of your career, it’s possible to be promoted every year giving agency life a sense of pace and amazing progression.

4. Sharpened commercial acumen

PR professionals in agencies gain hands-on experience in efficiently managing accounts, acquiring new clients, and providing exceptional client service. This exposure equips them with valuable insights into running a business —running a P&L for a team or an agency is a great commercial skill which is valuable in many career paths.

5. Embracing innovation

The PR industry is fiercely competitive, prompting agencies to constantly refine and enhance their service offerings to maintain a competitive edge. In 2023, agencies operate at the forefront of creativity and pace, taking on some of the most intricate and challenging communications projects in the field. This dynamic environment ensures that PR professionals stay ahead of the curve as they great multi-channel campaigns which are often above and below the line.

6. Building networks

PR agencies provide an invaluable opportunity to cultivate connections with influential figures in the media. This networking enables the development and nurturing of media relationships over time, resulting in consistent coverage of PR campaigns and the potential to carry these lasting connections into your future roles. Yes, the media landscape is vastly more digital, and success isn’t measured just be getting your client coverage in the FT now, however, don’t be fooled, media relationships still hold value.

7. Objective insights

Working in a PR agency offers a unique vantage point for understanding how organisations grow and promote their products. Agency professionals gain a bird's-eye view of the market and collaborate with a diverse client portfolio, giving them a competitive edge in staying attuned to current trends and market insights—a highly sought-after quality for prospective employers.

To round-up, use your network, talk to as many people as possible about their roles – the pros and the cons – and find out the reality of what it’s like to work both in-house and agency side. Both offer great opportunities, but before you set your sights on in-house with the belief that the ‘grass is greener’, be careful not to overlook the brilliant aspects of agency life that could make a huge difference to how quickly your comms career could progress and earn at the same rate.

For a free download of our full Annual Salary Guide 2023, click here.

Time for a change? Check out our latest jobs!

The Works Search: a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and are known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email:

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